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Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by…

Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi

by Steve Inskeep

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A portrayal of the city of karachi from its humble beginnings as a small fishing and trading village to the present city of nearly 20 million souls. The city epitomizes everything that is wrong with the country and makes for some very dreary reading
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
A portrayal of the city of karachi from its humble beginnings as a small fishing and trading village to the present city of nearly 20 million souls. The city epitomizes everything that is wrong with the country and makes for some very dreary reading
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
The author provides a comprehensive picture of Karachi and it's brilliant in the amount of people and places that describes, at the same time that large amount of characters and places makes the book lack structure. ( )
  emed0s | Jul 10, 2013 |
KARACHI is a new type of city - rising from obscurity as a 19th century village under the English Raj, to a major colonial outpost, to the capital of one of the world's most populous nations, having swollen to 30 times its 1940s population by 2010.

This journalistic snapshot of Karachi not only provides a portrait of the life and history of this unique city, but also some theories about other developing cities - Urumqi, Manila, Dhaka, Mexico City, Lagos, and so forth.

Karachi, and other such cities, are cities of multitudes and contrasts - the confluence of populations and ethnicities in a previously homogeneous city, religious and ethnic tensions, economic ambitions in contrast to utter poverty. Contrasts abound. Even the founder of the nation, Jinnah, is a complex man, as befitting his creation.

Understanding these new cities offers a chance of understanding the new world we are seeing. The anecdotes and local flavor are very interesting - recommended for those who want a glimpse into Pakistan. ( )
1 vote HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is an absolutely outstanding book. NPR reporter Steve Inskeep has written a brilliantly insightful look at the Pakistani megalopolis, Karachi, and what ails it. To understand what is happening in Karachi (and in a wider context in Pakistan), Inskeep focuses first and foremost on the fact that it is an "instant city". In 1947 it had a population of 400,000, was known for its cosmopolitanism, (just over half the population was Hindu) entrepreneurial spirit and progressive politics. The upheaval of partition dumped over a million refugees in the city in the space of a couple of years. Continued migration means that the population, within the span of a lifetime has boomed to an estimated 18 million. Within the course of a lifetime it has changed completely. In a series of vignettes Inskeep explores how and why the city has changed in this time and the invisible currents that underlie today's fearsome headlines about the city. He profiles some astonishing characters, including architects, high-powered businessmen, clerics, doctors, policemen, racketeers involved in land-development, and the indomitable and eccentric Abdul Sattar Edhi (who if there is any justice in the world should win the Nobel Peace Prize he has been nominated for this year for his lifetime's work - though honestly his wife should have been jointly nominated alongside him). Immensely readable, and truly insightful, I'd single this out as probably the best non-fiction book I've read this year. ( )
1 vote iftyzaidi | Dec 6, 2011 |
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Analyzes the growing metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan, including the importance of regional stability to American security interests, the terrorist bombing of a Shia religious procession, and the challenging religious, ethnic, and political divides.

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